January 2015

EU agrees to help Lanka lift ban

29th January 2015 // 0 Comments

The European Commission has offered Sri Lanka assistance to meet the regulatory requirements that would enable an early lifting of the ban on fish exports to the EU. This follows talks held between Sri Lanka and the European Commission, the External Affairs Ministry said in a statement today. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mangala Samaraweera, concluded a two day official visit to Brussels today. Foreign Minister Samaraweera met Belgian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Didier Reynders and members of the European Parliament. He also held talks with the European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella, and the European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica. Discussions focused on strengthening Sri Lanka’s relations with the European Union and Belgium, the steps Sri […]

Australian court rules detention of SL asylum seekers at sea, lawful

29th January 2015 // 0 Comments

Australia’s highest court ruled on Wednesday that the detention of asylum seekers from Sri Lanka on the high seas for almost a month was lawful, a win for the government’s tough immigration policy. The High Court ruling means the group of 157 ethnic Tamils, who were picked up by an Australian customs boat last June after setting out from India, are not entitled to seek compensation. Lawyers for the asylum seekers were disappointed with the decision, but noted it was not unanimous and said the case succeeded in drawing attention to Australia’s secretive “Operation Sovereign Borders” activities. The United Nations refugee agency, which has criticised Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers, made submissions in the case. “It took this case for the government to finally break […]

How the ‘Great Wall 329’ submarine rocked Mahinda’s boat.

29th January 2015 // 0 Comments

How the ‘Great Wall 329’ submarine rocked Mahinda’s boat… When the Chinese naval submarine ‘Great Wall 329’ arrived at the Colombo Port, Mahinda Rajapaksa may have not dreamt that even his royal astrologer, Sumanadasa Abeygunawardene’s prediction may prove wrong about his victory. Also, having declared a presidential election and when he travelled to Lord Venkateswara Temple, India, Mahinda may not have felt that the correct Temple to worship was the Temple at South Block, New Delhi. Be that as it may, Mahinda’s destiny was not changed by Maithripala who had hoppers and left him, but by the Chinese submarine ‘Great Wall 329’. When the first Chinese submarine came to Colombo, India summoned then Defence Secretary, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa to New Delhi. Gotabhaya was told that the […]

Why did Maithri send Dhanapala to UNHRC?

29th January 2015 // 0 Comments

Why did Maithri send Dhanapala to UNHRC? No doubt Presidential Advisor on Foreign Affairs, Jayantha Dhanapala is now in Geneva to met UNHRC High Commissioner, Zeid Hussein to discuss the issue of the war crimes probe against Sri Lanka. The UNHRC is expected to present a report in March which may contain the necessity to initiate such a probe against Sri Lanka and the refusal by the previous Rajapaksa government to permit the probing team passage to Sri Lanka to conduct investigations. Dhanapala’s mission to Geneva could be to make amends before that report is presented to the UNHRC and assure that an internal mechanism would be put in place to probe alleged war crimes. The talk in many circles is why Dhanapala and Foreign […]

The future state of the nation

29th January 2015 // 0 Comments

Pre-Independence Day thoughts 2015 In the run-up to Independence Day 2015, we must thank God for Sumanthiran. He is indubitably a moderate and an intellectual. Let us give thanks also for the Sunday Observer, which is a State-run newspaper not given to running stories or distorting them in a manner inimical or embarrassing to the Government of the day. Therefore, when Sumanthiran says something to the Sunday Observer, I take it seriously because I know I am on safe ground. Sumanthiran tells the newspaper that the TNA doesn’t expect much movement on addressing the Tamil political question during the 100-day program. That is realistic – and anyway, who’d want to affect the UNP’s chances at the general election by pressing home Tamil political demands? He […]

Sri Lankan government promises “devolution pact”?

29th January 2015 // 0 Comments

By Pani Wijesiriwardena 27 January 2015 Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe declared last week that his government would implement the 13th amendment to the country’s constitution. After nearly three decades, the amendment, which provided for the limited devolution of powers to the Tamil elite on a provincial level in the island’s north and east, has never been carried out fully. Wickremesinghe made the statement on January 19 while explaining the government’s agenda to the first parliamentary sitting following Maithripala Sirisena’s election as president on January 8. Sirisena appointed Wickremesinghe, leader of pro-US United National Party (UNP), as prime minister based on a new ruling coalition, the National Democratic Front, which includes a number of right-wing parties. Wickremesinghe’s promise to implement the 13th amendment is […]

Will Sri Lanka’s new president Sirisena spoil his own tea?

29th January 2015 // 0 Comments

Will Sri Lanka’s new president Sirisena spoil his own tea? -Dr. Abdul Ruff Colachal This question puzzles everyone – both analyst and layman. It is because these days governments behave alike and prefer to pursue similar policies though generally new governments come on anti-incumbency wave. On January 8, the Sri Lankan electorate achieved the impossible by voting President Mahindra Rajapaksa out of office – something inconceivable just a couple of months ago when he as a dictator was too strong to be ousted. Unlike other countries that have had to oust dictators through bloody violence or street protests, Sri Lankan voters ended Rajapaksa’s decade-long, increasingly authoritarian rule via democratic means, the ballot box. The January poll made Maithripala Sirisena the new president of Sri Lanka […]

Tamil Nadu CM urges Modi to defer meeting on repatriation of Sri Lankan refugees

29th January 2015 // 0 Comments

CHENNAI: Asserting that the conditions in the northern and eastern provinces of Sri Lanka are still not conducive for the refugees to return to their native land, Tamil Nadu chief minister O Panneerselvam on Wednesday said a meeting convened by the Union external affairs ministry to discuss the voluntary repatriation of refugees is premature and that it should be deferred. The ministry had sent an invite to the state government recently to depute an officer to attend an inter-ministerial meeting on January 30 to discuss the issue of voluntary repatriation. In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the chief minister conveyed the state’s concerns. “The process of voluntary repatriation could be considered only after concrete and credible measures are taken by the Sri Lankan […]

Will Mahinda Now Look Towards UN And US For Relief?

29th January 2015 // 0 Comments

by Upul Joseph Fernando – “The media does not highlight the threats hurled at my supporters. The media behaves in a manner as if it does not know such things” – Mahinda Rajapaksa tells BBC Sandeshaya Channel from Medamulana after his defeat. When in power Mahinda labelled the BBC and the international media as contractors of the LTTE. When the United States brought a resolution before the UNHRC against the Rajapaksa government in March 2013, Mahinda’s government disrupted the BBC Tamil Service. He censored all news that was critical of his administration. That was a violation of the agreement between the BBC and the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation. It appears that Mahinda has forgotten that past. So now he claims that the media ignores attacks […]

 Ex US Amb.Tesi Schaffer: Suspend UNHRC Probe On Sri Lanka

29th January 2015 // 0 Comments

By Daya Gamage A former senior diplomat of the U.S. State Department who served in the nineties in its diplomatic mission in Colombo as the ambassador, counsels Washington to “soften its voice” on human rights while advocating that the UNHRC – Geneva should suspend its probe on Sri Lanka. Ambassador Teresita C. Schaffer Another former senior foreign service officer who served in the same diplomatic mission as Political Counselor during the same period endorses the suggestion. The United States has been an influential voice in UN Human Rights Commission and Office of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva moving three resolutions criticizing Sri Lanka for its role during the final stage of the military offensive against the separatist Tamil Tigers while urging to […]

Sri Lanka: Eastern Province Military Governor Removed

29th January 2015 // 0 Comments

New Governors took their oaths before President Maithripala Sirisena today (27) at the Presidential Secretariat. Eastern Province governor Rear Admiral Mohan Wijewickrama has been replaced by  former civil servant a Austin Fernando. He was the  was Defence Secretary when the Prime Minister at the time, Ranil Wickremesinghe, signed the Norwegian-brokered ceasefire agreement (CFA) with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in February 2002. The six new governors are: Mr.H.M.G.S.Palihakkara – Governor Northern Province Mr.Austin Fernando – Governor Eastern Province Mr.B.M.A.R.Perera – Governor North Western Province Ms.Suranganee Ellawela – Governor Central Province Mr.P.B.Dissanayake – North Central Province Mr.M.P.Jayasinghe (Attorney-at-Law) – Uva Province The following three Governors were sworn in before President Maithripala Sirisena on January 23: Mr.K.C. Logeshwaran – Governor of the Western Province Mr.Hemakumara […]

The Rajapaksa Regime and the constitutionalisation of populist authoritarianism in Sri Lanka

29th January 2015 // 0 Comments

Asanga Welikala reviews the constitutional changes introduced by Sri Lanka’s former president Rajapaksa to remove key limitations on presidential power. He argues that Rajapaksa’s surprise defeat this month suggest the basic ideals of democratic government have deeper roots in the Sri Lankan polity than have been visible in the recent past. In a dramatic reversal of electoral fortunes, Mahinda Rajapaksa was ousted from power in Sri Lanka’s presidential election on 8th January. This was not an outcome that was contemplated as a possibility by even the most optimistic of Rajapaksa’s critics barely three months ago, when his regime appeared to enjoy what seemed like the impregnable support of the Sinhala-Buddhist majority. Part of the reason for Rajapaksa’s appearance of invincibility had been the constitutional changes […]

Westminster Hall debate on Sri Lanka titled “Tamil People in Sri Lanka”

28th January 2015 // 0 Comments

http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/hansard/commons/todays-commons-debates/read/unknown/189/ Tamil People in Sri Lanka 28/01/2015 UK – Westminster Hall debate on Sri Lanka titled “Tamil People in Sri Lanka” Motion made, and Question proposed, That the sitting be now adjourned.—(Gavin Barwell.) 9.30 am Mr Lee Scott (Ilford North) (Con):It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Caton. May I ask everyone’s forgiveness as, perhaps to a lot of people’s delight, I am losing my voice, so I might not speak for as long as I would normally? The timing of the debate is opportune, because the Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, my right hon. Friend the Member for East Devon (Mr Swire), is in Sri Lanka as we speak. He arrived this morning and is staying until Friday. Perhaps some of what […]

UK Minister Swire to visit Jaffna

28th January 2015 // 0 Comments

British Foreign Office Minister Hugo Swire will visit Jaffna while in Sri Lanka from 28-30 January, the British High Commission in Colombo said. Hugo Swire is paying a second visit to Sri Lanka which comes shortly after the formation of a new government. As part of a broad visit Swire will call on senior ministers including Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to discuss the new government’s reform programme and areas of potential co-operation. “I am delighted to be visiting Sri Lanka again so soon after the recent elections, and welcome the early progress made by President Sirisena towards a more democratic and accountable government,” Swire said with regards to his upcoming visit. He said that it is encouraging to see such a renewed desire for peace and […]

Probe on Gota’s alleged attempt

28th January 2015 // 0 Comments

The government has called for an investigation into an alleged attempt by former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa to create instability in the country over the next three months. Cabinet Spokesperson and Health Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne said that documents related to the alleged attempt were handed over to the National Executive Council. “Gotabaya Rajapaksa still has hopes to topple this government. Therefore I informed the National Executive Council to look into this matter as soon as possible,” the Minister said. Senaratne further alleged that more than 400 military officials were also being trained at an army base in the North under directions from an Army Brigadier, who is an ally of the former Defence Secretary, in an attempt to create a fresh crisis situation in […]

They attempted a coup, but failed

28th January 2015 // 0 Comments

Coming in at a time when many changes are set to take place, newly appointed Minister of Justice Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe in an exclusive interview with the Daily Mirror sheds light on some of the more sensitive and topical issues prevalent in the country. Here are a few excerpts…. Q- What was the situation in the Justice Ministry at the time you took over? What are the main oversights that needed attention? Really there was no problem with the Ministry of Justice. There were big issues in the independence of the judiciary and the Law College. People had lost the confidence in the entire Courts system because of political appointments and influence which is cancerous. It was cancerous. The executive had encroached on the legislature and […]

Wigneswaran calls for release of Tamil political prisoners and return of occupied Tamil land

27th January 2015 // 0 Comments

The chief minister of the Northern Provincial Council, CV Wigneswaran and a delegation of Northern Provincial Councillors, called for the release of 6500 acres of Tamil land taken by  the Sri Lankan military and release of registered and unregistered Tamil political prisoners. The delegation made the demands noting that several unregistered political prisoners were being held in secret captivity during a meeting with the newly appointed Resettlement Minister DM Swaminathan in Colombo on Saturday. Mr Swaminathan assured the Tamil delegation that the appropriate actions would be taken to resolve the issues, reports the Uthayan.

UN Human Rights Chief Urged To Visit Sri Lanka

27th January 2015 // 0 Comments

The Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam (TGTE) has today urged the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Prince Zeid Ra’ad Zeid Al-Hussein, to visit the island of Sri Lanka to get information for the Office of the High Commissioner’s Investigation on Sri Lanka (OISL) report to be submitted to the UN Human Rights Council in March, 2015. Noting that the newly appointed Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, has stated that he is willing to engage with the United Nations probe, TGTE’s Prime Minister Visuvanathan Rudrakumaran urged in his letter to the High Commissioner that this is a “window of opportunity” that should not be missed. The letter further states that the Investigation Team would have already recorded evidence from the victims and reliable third […]

My husband was arrested for investigating First Lady: ex-DIG’s wife

27th January 2015 // 0 Comments

Former DIG Vass Gunawardena’s wife, Shyamali Priyadarshani Perera, today alleged that her husband was arrested under “false charges” due to him spearheading an investigation into a conspiracy to sell 100kg of gold belonging to the treasury and its direct links to the former First lady. Speaking to reporters after filing a complaint with the Bribery Commission this morning, she said that her husband had received information through the army intelligence unit regarding an attempt to illegally sell 100 kilograms of gold, worth around Rs 500 million, belonging to the state treasury. Shyamali Perera claimed that her husband, who was then the DIG Colombo (North), had revealed to her that the investigation had uncovered the involvement of First Lady Shiranthi Rajapaksa and that he was ordered […]

Sri Lanka’s International Reset

27th January 2015 // 0 Comments

The election result opens the door to reforms in Sri Lanka’s foreign policy. As the dust settles following an unexpected result in Sri Lanka’s recent presidential election, the focus has gradually shifted from discussions on what was behind the incumbent’s loss to what lies ahead with the new administration. President Maithripala Sirisena’s campaign focused mainly on domestic affairs, related to corruption and government reform, yet requires a firm pivot towards prioritizing external affairs as well. Post-conflict Sri Lanka and its Ministry of External Affairs, over the past five years, has depended on haphazard and reactive arrangements, to say the least. In fact, the country lacked any coherent message on relevant issues with contradictory statements being made by local politicians and diplomats. This article attempts to […]

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